If you don’t choose high performance, circumstances may eventually force your hand.

By Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC

directors sitting around a board table with thought and quote clouds around themA high-performing organization is directly connected to a high-performing board. So how can you know which type of board yours has chosen to be?

A high performing board is obvious because the room is vibrant, the organization’s performance is strong, and the board and CEO have a viable leadership relationship. Unfortunately, high-performing boards are a minority, as most boards could be described as “entrenched.” (For more on the five personalities of boards, including entrenched and high performing, read my “Know Your Rubber Band” post, also on CUES Skybox.)

When a CEO is asked about the quality of the board of directors, the answer is spontaneous and open when the board is high performing. The CEO’s face brightens, and he or she smiles while expressing three to four of the board’s best attributes.

Read the statements below: How many apply to your board? If I missed some attributes, write them in the comment box at the end of the blog. Let’s share what we see as high performance for all our boards.

  • makes a difference in challenging assumptions;
  • adds tremendous strategic value;
  • offers useful perspectives;
  • comes prepared, knows the board packet, and has outlined questions;
  • keeps the conversation at a strategic level;
  • performs specific value-added acts;
  • spends time on the most important issues, such as succession planning and strategic planning, risk oversight and financial oversight;
  • adopts a mantra of continuous improvement;
  • delegates operations to the CEO;
  • self-monitors members’ roles, responsibilities, and actions;
  • holds open and vibrant board meetings;
  • allows each board member to express his/her voice in a strategically oriented conversation;
  • aligns the organization’s culture with the culture in the boardroom; and
  • steers the organization toward positive performance.

When I work with boards, the best way to start on the path to high performance is creating a vision that everyone in the room will actively support. What does the board need to look like in the future? What competencies are required to add sustainable value to the organization? What competencies do we currently have in the boardroom? What is our commitment to sustainable development? What does sustainable really mean? Questions of this magnitude are important to ask and facilitate alignment; the answers create the foundation for a high-performing board.

Time is an impediment to adopting effective practices. However, if we don’t commit the time and effort today, the chance of increased enterprise risk is greater in the future. Said another way, if you do not commit and starting moving toward a high performing board today, a breakdown in the future will force you onto the path of more effective leadership.

The choice is yours.

Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC, is CEO of CUES Supplier member and strategic providerDDJ Myers, Ltd., Phoenix. Learn more about DDJ Myers’ offerings with CUES.

 Help bring your board along the performance curve by sending a few directors–or the whole crew–to CUES Director Development Seminar, slated for Sept. 16-28 in Savannah, Ga. Earlier the same week in Savannah: Director Risk and Compliance Seminar, Sept. 14-15.

Myers will be among the executive coaches working with attendees at CEO/Executive Team Network this November. Encourage your CEO to go!

Published originally on CUES Skybox, August 31, 2015.